Corporate finance and real estate experts from Gowling WLG have assisted long-standing client, Birmingham City Council, in its disposal of digital and technology campus, Innovation Birmingham, via a corporate share sale to property firm, Bruntwood.
Bruntwood plans to facilitate a new era of expansion at the campus that will incorporate a core focus on further supporting start-ups and technological innovation. The work carried out by Gowling WLG also included re-gearing the existing leases as part of the sale for Birmingham City Council, which will remain landlord, with individual leases now in place for longer terms.
Located in the centre of Birmingham, close to The University of Aston and the City University, campuses, Innovation Birmingham is made up of three buildings over 80,000 sq ft: iCentrum, Universities Centre and Faraday Wharf. Indeed, since 2009, it has successfully supported more than 260 businesses, created more than 500 jobs and raised more than £18m in equity finance.
The transfer required a wide range of expertise from within Gowling WLG. The transaction was led by corporate partner David Vaughan, alongside associate Grace Humber, Nisha Jassal (partner), Victoria O'Sullivan (senior associate), Stephen Fitzsimmons (Of counsel) and Ryan Millwood (trainee) provided real estate input on the disposal, supported by principal associate, Ruth Griffin and paralegal Oliva Nimmo from the construction and engineering team. On the tax side, senior associate, Tom Rank, provided key input while pensions-related advice was given by principal associate, Jenny Lewis.
The sale is a key component of accelerating the site's future and its current focus on supporting entrepreneurial startups. Running parallel with this, the technology sector is considered vital to the future success of the region's economy and is a key part of mayor, Andy Street's economic strategy.
Commenting on the development prospects of the new arrangement, Nisha said: "The sale by one of the most innovative and ambitious Council's in the UK will help in supporting the wider regeneration of the City and also help further place Birmingham on the map as a centre of science and technology-focused innovation - a crucial differentiator for the city, and the UK as a whole."
David Vaughan said: "Birmingham City Council has again shown that it is prepared to think creatively to make some of its key assets attractive to private sector capital and investment whilst at the same time retaining influence over its long term use and development. As with the 2015 sale of the NEC, the sale of Innovation Birmingham both frees the Council of responsibility for the ongoing capital investment required but also ensures that Innovation Birmingham continues to contribute to the creation of jobs and wealth in the region for the long term. We have been thrilled to work alongside the Council on these ground breaking projects."